Bert is an indoor-outdoor cat. He came home one day with a swelling on his right shoulder about 1 week after his family noted he was limping. The initial exam (about 1 week before the drain was placed), revealed a slight fever, swollen and painful area of the right shoulder. The swelling was explored and a large amount of purulent material was found (puss). Bert was given an injectable antibiotic (Convenia) that lasts about 2 weeks. He was sent home to be monitored.
The diagnosis is usually made by patient examination. In most cases, although not all with cats, a wound will be found, or be evident. I have had many patients who do not have an obvious wound because the infection came from a cat fight. Cats are adept at fighting and causing abscess because their sharp claws can puncture the skin, seed bacteria under the skin, and then their skin closes/heals so quickly that it traps the bacteria (infection) under the skin. The bacteria is now in a place that is warm, has food (blood/tissue) and allows it to incubate quickly and effectively. I often see the abscess days to weeks after the inciting fight. Any firm, warm, acute painful swelling, OR, any cat who is acting quiet, lethargic, not eating well and has a fever should be examined for infection.
An exploratory exam, either aspirate, lance, or surgical incision into the swelling usually produces copious amounts of puss. These cases often require multiple treatments. Either longer treatment periods (i.e. antibiotics for weeks), a drain placement, or even exploratory surgery. I have had many feline patients who took many weeks to heal.
Bert had a drain placed. This allowed flushing of the wound with antibiotic solutions. It also allowed the large pocket to heal and be treated quicker.
His video of the drain placement is here;
Berts story was posted with permission from his family. Berts surgery was performed by myself, Dr Krista Magnifico